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Ermilo Abreu Gómez interviews Cuban Juan Marinello for Frente a Frente [Face to Face], the journal of the Liga de Escritores y Artistas Revolucionarios (LEAR) [League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists]. In the interview, the key issue of artistic identity is addressed: “I think there is a power and subtlety to the essence of Mexico that has yet to be fully grasped, and that in fact will never be fully revealed since it is a flowing, ongoing force of nature. The Mexican artist’s overriding goal should be to search for this essential quality of Mexico—the intrinsic color of the Mexican people—and to see the outside world through Mexican-tinted spectacles as complementary to his own destiny.” And, referring to this Mexican-ness, Marinello adds: “no trade, not even the writer’s, is exempt from a political function.” The article ends by excommunicating in its comments “those who wrap their fascist affiliation in a lack of faith in the power of the people.”


When the Cuban intellectual and political activist Juan Marinello (1898-1977) came to Mexico in 1936, as he had done three years earlier, he circulated his aesthetic theses, which were diametrically opposed to the ideas expressed by the Guatemalan writer and critic Luis Cardoza y Aragón (1901-92). Marinello said, as he had on his earlier visit, that it seemed to him that writers behaved like “Children of a false culture, influenced by the criteria of an aristocratic agenda, who demand that Mexico’s evolution should emulate European rhythms, the rhythms they learned about in French or German books,” appearing to repeat the remarks he made some weeks earlier when Marinello criticized Cardoza y Aragón at the LEAR [League of Revolutionary Writers and Artists].

However—on the heels of that dispute and in response to Marinello’s statements in this article— the Mexico-based Guatemalan writer replied emphatically that: “Those of us who never venture to look beyond our native country find it so familiar that we no longer know it, and can often be found circling blindly in one spot.” Cardoza also wondered about the “almost inexplicable fear we feel for what is referred to as the Frenchification of painting and writing.” He went on to state: “influences are never dangerous when they are met with sensitivity and talent.” These opinions were published in the magazine of the Universidad Obrera, UO [Workers University] (December 1936-January 1937.)

Francisco Reyes Palma : CURARE A. C.
CURARE, Espacio crítico para las artes, Mexico City, Mexico
Courtesy of Yamile Paz Paredes Camacho, Mexico City, Mexico
Fondo reservado de la Biblioteca Justino Fernández del Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México